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U.S. Supreme Court

Lafayette Insurance Company v. French, 59 U.S. 18 How. 404 404 (1855)

Lafayette Insurance Company v. French

59 U.S. (18 How.) 404


Where a corporation is sued, it is not enough in order to give jurisdiction to say that the corporation is a citizen of the state where the suit is brought. But an averment is sufficient when admitted by a demurrer that the corporation was created by the laws of the state and had its principal place of business there.

Where a corporation chartered by the State of Indiana was allowed by a law of Ohio to transact business in the latter state upon the condition that service of process upon the agent of the corporation should be considered as service upon the corporation itself, a judgment against the corporation obtained by means of such process ought to have been received in Indiana with the same faith and credit that it was entitled to in Ohio.

The State of Ohio had a right to impose such a condition, and when the company sent its agent into that state, it must be presumed to have assented to the rule.

If the judgment was recovered in Ohio against the company by an erroneous name, but the suit upon the judgment was brought in Indiana against the company using its chartered name correctly, accompanied with an averment that it was the same company, this mistake is no ground of error; it could only be taken advantage of by a plea in abatement, in the suit in which the first judgment was recovered.

In 1836, the Legislature of Indiana chartered the Lafayette Insurance Company with the usual powers of a company to insure against losses by fire. Their principal office or place of business was at Lafayette, in Indiana, but they also had an office at Cincinnati, in the County of Hamilton and State of Ohio. At the latter place, the agent issued a policy to the defendants in error, to insure certain property against fire, which was afterwards consumed. An action was brought upon the policy in Ohio, the process being served upon the agent, and a judgment was entered against the company. Upon a record of this judgment, an action was brought in the Circuit Court of the United States in Indiana, and judgment again entered against the company.

Upon the trial, the plaintiffs offered in evidence a copy of the record of the case, as tried in Ohio, to the introduction of which the defendant objected for the following reasons, namely:

"1. Because said judgment record shows and evidences a judgment recovered against 'The President, Directors, and Company of the Lafayette Insurance Company' and does not show or evidence the recovery of a judgment against this defendant."

"2. Because said judgment record does not show or evidence the service of process upon this defendant as required by law, nor the appearance of this defendant by attorney, or otherwise in said action or suit in said commercial court, and that said judgment, as a judgment, is therefore a nullity. "

Page 59 U. S. 405

"3. Because the said judgment record does not evidence the existence of rendition of a judgment in personam against said defendant."

But the court admitted the evidence. Some of the counts in the declaration being upon the policy as well as the record, the plaintiffs then introduced evidence to show the loss, value &c. of the property insured. Judgment was rendered against the defendants for $2,817.11.


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